Audience in Ireland watches circus acrobat fall to his death

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Russian trapeze artist, Vitaly Kharapavitski, 26, performing at a circus in Scariff, Ireland has died after a cage attached to a hot air balloon crushed the performer. His wife, Sasha, 24, who was also performing at the time, was injured, breaking her arm. Both were dressed in clown suits.

At least 100 people were attending the circus and watched the acrobat fall. Most of the attendees were children.

According to witnesses, the balloon caught fire and the cage fell on top of the acrobat, crushing his head.

Spectators of the circus were asked to leave the area while the incident was being investigated. Tony Kenneally, a Garda Superintendent said that the incident is being treated as an accident.

"We had to discharge the audience because we knew it was quite serious," said spokespeople for the Royal Russian Circus.

Some of the attendees thought the fall was part of the performance.